Braised Lamb Shanks
This is without a doubt the most requested recipe I've ever created. Lamb shanks are one of the cuts of meat that benefit most from long, slow braising. Don't omit the step of turning the shanks every half hour; it causes them to caramelize even as they braise. If the braising liquid seems too reduced at the end of the cooking process, stir 1 cup of water into the liquid before straining.
Serve this with Soft Polenta, Tomato-Thyme Risotto, Potato purée, or White Bean purée (see the book).
6 lamb foreshanks (see Food for Thought below)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup olive oil
2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 large Spanish onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup tomato paste
5 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
3 anchovy fillets
1 whole head garlic, cut in half
2 cups red wine
1 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups Veal Stock or 1 cup demi-glace (see Note below)
2 cups Chicken Stock (page 23 of book)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Season the lamb shanks liberally with salt and pepper. With a sharp knife, cut about 1 inch from the bottom (narrow end) of the shank bones down to the bone and all the way around; this will help expose the bone while cooking. Set aside.
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the celery, carrot, and onion to the pot, and cook until very soft, 8-10 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and cook 1-2 minutes.
Add the thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, anchovies, and garlic, and cook another 2-3 minutes.
Add the red and white wine, vinegar, and sugar, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat to medium and add the veal and chicken stocks. Leave over medium heat while you brown the shanks.
In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, brown the shanks well in the remaining 1/2 cup oil on both sides, about I minute for each of 3 sides. Use tongs to flip them over.
Transfer the shanks to a roasting pan and pour the stock mixture on top. Cover with aluminum foil and cook in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Remove the foil and cook for another 3 hours, turning the shanks over every half hour until the meat is very soft.
Remove the shanks from the braising liquid and strain the liquid. Skim any fat that rises to the surface and use the liquid as a sauce.
Wine: Serve this with any full-bodied red wine.
Food for Thought: What Fore? I use the foreshanks rather than the rear shanks because they are, as a rule, meatier.
Note: Demi-glace is veal stock that has been reduced by half. High-quality prepared versions are available at gourmet shops.
Welcome to My Kitchen
A New York Chef Shares His
Robust Recipes and Secret Techniques
By Tom Valenti
Hardcover, 336 pages
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Recipe reprinted by permission.
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This page created April 2002